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Nvidia’s new AI system translates text into landscape images

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A new system based on AI technology GauGAN2 allows you to create lifelike photos of nonexistent landscapes.

Nvidia presented a new system based on artificial intelligence technologies GauGAN2 (successor to the first model GauGAN), which allows you to create lifelike photos of nonexistent landscapes. Using techniques such as segmented mapping, retouching, and text-to-image conversion, the GauGAN2 is capable of creating lifelike images from text and freehand sketches.

“Compared to other advanced models, especially for converting text to image or map segments to image, the underlying neural network of GauGAN2 produces more varied and high-quality images. Instead of drawing each element of an imaginary image, users can simply enter a short phrase and generate it key features and plot like a snow-covered mountain range. This starting block can then be completed by making this or that mountain higher and adding trees in the background or clouds in the sky, “- said Nvidia team member Isha Salian.

GauGAN2 is an improved version of the GauGAN system, created in 2019 and trained on over a million open images from the Flickr platform. Like the GauGAN, the GauGAN2 understands the relationships between objects such as snow, trees, water, flowers, bushes, hills and mountains and “realizes” that the type of precipitation changes with the seasons.

Both GauGAN and GauGAN2 are a generative adversarial network (GAN) consisting of a generator and a discriminator. The generator takes samples (images with accompanying text) and assumes which data (words) correspond to other data (landscape elements). The generator is trained by tricking a discriminator that evaluates whether these assumptions are true. Although GAN hops are usually of poor quality, they are enhanced by discriminator feedback.

Unlike GauGAN, GauGAN2 is trained on 10 million images and is capable of translating speech descriptions into landscape images. If you enter text like “sunset on the beach”, the network will generate a corresponding image, and if you expand the phrase to “sunset on a rocky beach” or replace “sunset” with “noon” or “rainy day”, the image changes accordingly.

With GauGAN2, users can generate segmented maps – high-level sketches showing the location of objects in an image. This sketch can then be turned into a drawing by adding rough sketches to it using the sky, tree, rock, and river markings, or hand-painting with the brush tool.

Nvidia says the first version of GauGAN is already being used to create concept art for movies and video games. As with GauGAN, the company plans to release the GauGAN2 code on GitHub along with an interactive demo on the Playground, a web hub for Nvidia’s AI research and deep learning.

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Hundreds of malicious Tor nodes are used to de-anonymize users

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Malicious servers were added to the Tor network on an ongoing basis, and there were hundreds of them.

Since at least 2017, a mysterious attacker (or group), tracked by cybersecurity experts as KAX17, has been adding malicious servers to the Tor network, acting as entry, intermediary, and exit nodes. How thinks a security researcher using the pseudonym Nusenu, the campaign aimed to de-anonymize users.

Nusenu, which itself is the Tor node operator, discovered malicious activity in 2019, but says KAX17 has been in effect since at least 2017. According to Nusenu, malicious servers with no contact information were added to the Tor network on an ongoing basis, with hundreds of them. At its peak, the network included over 900 malicious servers.

In general, servers added to the Tor network must contain contact information (such as an email address) so that Tor administrators or law enforcement agencies can contact node operators in the event of misconfiguration or reports of abuse. Despite this rule, servers without contact information are often added to the network, mainly to maintain their numbers.

KAX17 servers are located in data centers around the world and are mostly configured as exit and intermediary nodes, with only a small number of them operating as exit nodes. As Nusenu notes, this is strange enough, since most attackers who manage malicious nodes configure them as exit nodes, which allows them to modify the traffic. For example, the BTCMITM20 group managed a network of thousands of malicious exit nodes to attack users visiting cryptocurrency-related sites.

According to the researcher, KAX17 collects information about users connecting to the Tor network, and then determines their routes. Nusenu reported its findings to the Tor Project last year, and the servers were removed from the network in October 2020. Soon after, another group of exit nodes appeared in Tor with no contact information, but whether it was associated with KAX17 is unclear.

In October and November 2021, the Tor Project also removed hundreds of KAX17 servers. Neither Nusenu nor the Tor Project have speculated yet on who is behind KAX17.

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US State Department employees’ smartphones underwent hacker attack

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The iPhones of at least nine Ugandan US State Department employees have been hacked by spyware from Israel’s NSO Group.

US diplomats in Uganda have been targeted by a software tool developed by the Israeli firm NSO Group. If the fact of espionage against employees of the US State Department is confirmed, serious problems await the developer of the “master keys” for the iPhone.

Spyware, developed by the Israeli company NSO Group, has been used to hack iPhone smartphones by at least nine US foreign policy officials. This was reported by Reuters, citing sources. As the newspaper notes, this is the largest known hacking of the devices of American officials.

According to the agency, the hackers were only interested in department employees who either worked at the US Embassy in Uganda or dealt with issues related to the situation in this country. So far, it has not been possible to find out exactly who hacked the smartphones. In turn, the NSO Group said that they do not have information that their equipment was used for the cyberattack. The company also said that it is interested in cooperation with all governments and is ready to provide the required data.

As reported by Bloomberg, the fact of hacking was confirmed by Apple, which sent appropriate notifications to the victims.

As previously reported, Apple went to court in November and wanted to obtain a permanent injunction against the use of software products, services and devices by the NSO Group.

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Microsoft has recalled changes in Windows 11 that made it difficult to change the default browser

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The new Windows 11 developer build now offers a simple button to switch default browsers.

Microsoft has revoked changes earlier in Windows 11 that made it difficult to change the default browser. As reported by The Verge, a new test build of Windows 11 now allows users to set Chrome, Firefox, and others as their default browser with a single button.

Earlier this week developer Rafael Rivera discovered new changes in Windows 11. Instead of changing individual file extensions or protocol handlers for HTTP, HTTPS, .HTML, and .HTM, Windows 11 now offers a simple button that lets you switch default browsers similar to Windows 10.

Microsoft has confirmed that the changes were intentional and are currently being tested.

“In Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22509, released through the developer channel on Wednesday, we have optimized the ability for Windows Previewers to set the default browser for apps that register for HTTP, HTTPS, .HTM, and .HTML,” said VP of Marketing for Windows Aaron Woodman.

As previously reported, Microsoft is making a huge effort to increase the number of users on its Edge browser. In the middle of last month, Microsoft blocked certain methods to quickly change the default browser in Windows 11. The blocking was implemented in Windows 11 developer build 22494 and directly affected EdgeDeflector, which is used by hundreds of thousands of people. As Microsoft admitted to The Verge, the blocking was intentional.

Microsoft is still testing new changes in Windows 11 to make it easier to switch the default browser, but when they will become available to users is unknown.

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